PAX Aus 2017: Witch Thief is a shining light among a sea of bullets

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Anyone who has met me would know that I am a huge anime fan boy and that I enjoy myself a good magical girl anime when presented one; in fact my guilty pleasure is Sailor Moon and her magical girl adventures. It should then come as no surprise that Cardboard Keep’s Witch Thief was one of my favourite indie games on the PAX Australia floor this year. A unique 3D take on the Bullet Hell genre, this game certainly had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire demo, breathing a sigh of relief once finished.

At the start of the demo Witch Thief was kind enough to ease me into the fast paced speed that bullet hell games are notoriously well known for. However, after finding my feet, the kid-gloves came off and I was pitted up against a cacophony of magical girls all hell bent on blasting me into oblivion with their own magic. The unique perspective of Witch Thief had me constantly on high alert, as all it took to kill me was a single attack and I did find myself dying quite a bit. Luckily, I was granted with certain abilities to aid me in my quest; abilities such as a focused magic blast which when aimed at enemies took them out with amazing speed and accuracy. I was also able to dash through unavoidable magic beams and if I was left with no other option I could use a special attack that allowed me to steal all the magic bullets on screen and hurl them back at the enemy with deadly force.

The aim of Witch Thief is to journey the land, get as much magic as possible and obtain the world’s most powerful grimoire, but as is the case with any coveted commodity, no one wants to give it up willingly. By exploring the map you’ll progress through the game and take on several magical opponents, all with their own unforgiving and difficult attack patterns. It certainly took me some time to establish an attack plan and even then I was still finding myself playing defence fifty percent of the time. This was certainly half the fun however, as I was always planning my next move, and readying my counterattack the moment the opportunity presented itself.

“The game’s atmosphere and all around theme is certainly a delight to experience”

Witch Thief draws its aesthetic inspiration from such series as Alice in Wonderland and Touhou, with characters donning whimsical and often Lolita inspired costumes that appear to come straight out of an anime. The dialogue is also quite camp and witty, with the playable demo character having a cheeky sense of humour and not taking anyone’s crap when told to back down. In what can only be described as “fluffy-dark” the game’s atmosphere and all around theme is certainly a delight to experience.

Witch Thief is currently still in development but is aiming for a 2018 Q1 Steam release onto PC, Mac and Linux initially but hopefully soon after porting onto current gen consoles. For those interested in finding out more about Cardboard Keep’s Witch Thief, visit their official website. Personally, I’ll be keeping my eye out for this ’mahou shoujo’ gem and I look forward to the full version of the game next year.